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Age-dependent change of RFRP-3 neuron numbers and innervation in female mice

Research group Kalsbeek
Publication year 2022
Published in Neuropeptides
Authors A. Kalsbeek, Eleni Angelopoulou, Valérie Simonneaux,
The order of authors may deviate from the original publication due to temporary technical issues.

In female mammals, reproductive senescence is a complex process involving progressive ovarian dysfunction, associated with altered central control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and desynchronization of the circadian system. The objective of this study was to investigate age-dependent changes in the daily regulation of Arg-Phe amide-related peptide-3 (RFRP-3), a hypothalamic peptide involved in reproduction, in female C57BL/6 J mice of different age groups (4, 13, and 19 months old) sampled at their diestrus stage. We found an age-dependent decrease in the total number of RFRP-3 neurons and in the relative number of activated (i.e. c-Fos-positive) RFRP-3 neurons. RFRP-3 neuronal activation exhibited a daily variation in young and middle-aged mice, which was abolished in 19-month-old mice. We also found a daily variation in the number of RFRP-3 neurons receiving close vasopressin (AVP)- and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-ergic fiber appositions in mice aged 4 and 13 months, but not in 19-month-old mice. However, we found no daily or age-dependent changes in the AVP and VIP fiber density in the dorsomedial hypothalamus. Plasma LH levels were similar in mice aged 4 and 13 months, but were markedly increased in 19-month-old mice. The present findings indicate that the number of RFRP-3 positive neurons is downregulated during old age and that the daily changes in their innervation by the circadian peptides AVP and VIP are abolished. This age-associated reduced (rhythmic) activity of the inhibitory RFRP-3 system could be implicated in the elevated LH secretion observed during reproductive senescence.

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